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Rocket Go Boom May 5, 2015

Posted by Fritz in Yachts and other things that float.
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When it comes to space and rockets I’m a geek. Even though I don’t want to travel in space I’m fascinated by it and those that do. With the end of NASA’s Shuttle program in 2011 we’ve been in a big space drought—that was until about a year or so ago when US private space ventures really started to kick in. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan’s Virgin Galactic, Alliant Techsystems, along with United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security) have rushed to fill the void.

progree-M

Sister satellite – Progress-M M24

All the while the Russians have been providing the heavy lifting for all of the International Space Station (ISS) flights. Unfortunately, the last re-supply mission to the ISS went awry when the rocket failed to enter into a stable orbit after liftoff. Progress-M 27M is now tumbling back to earth.

One of my favorite geek space websites is http://www.n2yo.com/ Here you can track in real time everything we have currently orbiting the earth—including out-of-control rockets crashing to earth. According to the real space geeks who have crunched the numbers Progress-M 27M’s demise is estimated sometime on May 8th.

Now of course the rocket is degrading due to gravity and atmospheric conditions. The sun showed some activity on Tuesday leading to a response in Earth’s atmosphere. Flux levels continue to rise and atmospheric expansion can accelerate the orbital decay of the spacecraft. As it starts to encounter the denser layers of the atmosphere (beginning around 100 miles up) she will really begin to fail. Even with all the special algorithms and scary rocket-science calculations the current window is plus or minus up to 24 hours from the time of estimated crash.

Prediction date/time Source
08 May 2015 21:43 UTC +/- 22 hours Aerospace
08 May 2015 08:59 UTC +/- 24 hours USSTRATCOM
08 May 2015 08:26 UTC +/- 11 hours Ted Molczan

As luck would have it there is an ‘excellent’ observation opportunity early in the morning on the 8th directly over my head.

Start Max altitude End Visible passes
Date, Local time Az Local time Az El Local time Az Mag Info
8-May 06:15 SW
222°
06:19 NNW
332°
79° 06:22 NE
41°
Map and details

The actual link is here: http://www.n2yo.com/passes/?s=40619#

How cool would it be to see this thing burn up right over head?!!!
Sadly, the weather report for South Florida is 30% chance of rain with a cloudy sky all day Friday.

Of course the odds that the rocket will decide to die within my sight, or sight of any human is pretty low. With the earth being 2/3rds water and a good portion of that land surface uninhabited scientists say there’s just a three percent chance of anyone seeing it—but a boy can dream…